In tonight’s episode of “What can I be offended about?”

Having a name butchered happens beyond coffee shops. This same anxiety peeks its head in the workplace, the classroom and many other aspects of life.

In this episode of RadioActive Youth Media, hosts Zuheera Ali and Keya Roy talk to author Ijeoma Oluo and each other about their experiences living in the United States with “difficult” names. They also talk to Rita Kohli, a professor at University of California, Riverside who has done research on the effects of mispronouncing names on students of color.

The racist practice of mispronouncing names.

This seems to be a podcast where two teens apparently feel their emotional well being is under assault because the local barista cannot pronounce their not-ordinary first name properly.

There are over 6,000 languages in the world with 195 countries. That is a bunch of names in different pronunciations that there is no way anybody in the world can get right at first try.  Yet Need-To-Be-Butthurt girls complain some minimum wage barista ought to get right from the get-go.

Fortunately, we have somebody nearby with a foreign and/or weird sounding name to use as example: me.

Now, when I came to the US way back in the age of MTV actually playing music videos, my name was not very well-known and I heard it pronounced in a bunch of “wrong” ways like Mee-Ghoul, May-GU-El, Migel (Like Nigel)  and others I can’t remember. Was I insulted because my names was not being said right? No, because I was having issues myself with some names in English that I had not heard before and I was doing a Freddy Krueger on them.  Do you know how hard was for me to properly say Beau? And when I finally get it right, I find out there is the name Bo? And they it may come from Beaufort or Beauregard which are not easy for a Spanish Speaker to pronounce also?

Here is the funny thing. Back there when you mispronounced a name, there was no insult taken but a polite correction was issued because the other person would understand that it was simply a mistake of ignorance, not a racist taunt. My roommate, also a Hispanic, was called Elias which in Spanish is pronounced Eh-lee-ass. But he took a shine to the way it was pronounced in English and did not mind it at all being addressed that way. In my case, people tried to call me Michael, Mike and all the variations, for some reason, even when I did not mind at all, my brain never processed  the fact that somebody was addressing me so I was adressed as Miguel or nicknames and adjecives not to be used in polite company.

Uncommon names are hard to initially process, To ignore that is to be a stuck up asshole.  and to claim that mispronouncing them is racist, is possibly the dumbest stuff I read this morning. Thanks to Movies and TV, the name John is not unusual in Spanish-speaking countries and you will get an accented version of the name. But something like Jebediah? At best it would be something like Yevedalla (Je as in he-he, Ve as in vertical, Da as in daddy and Ya as in yard) on a good day. On a bad name, people will just blink and call you Gringo.

PS: I used to pronounce Beau as Ve(as in vertical)-Ah- U(nion). I figure I was not shot on sight because they Non-Gringo was having issues with the language. 😀

UPDATE: J.Kb. sent me this video about the racist hardships of name mispronunciation. The struggle is real.




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By Miguel.GFZ

Semi-retired like Vito Corleone before the heart attack. Consiglieri to J.Kb and AWA. I lived in a Gun Control Paradise: It sucked and got people killed. I do believe that Freedom scares the political elites.

15 thoughts on “Mispronouncing names is Racist! ZOMG! UPDATE.”
  1. These children should be made to watch “Barney Miller” and listen to “Life with Luigi”. If they don’t understand from them that it’s not new and they’re not special, then they should be legally classified as permanently children.

  2. I hate this bullshit. I truly do. This is nothing but another form of Identity Politics crybully grievance mongering.

    They ALWAYS pick people with African or Arab names to be the victims of this, like it is a conspiracy to mispronounce only “names of color.”

    My grandmother’s family name is Krawczyk. That’s a rather common Polish last name. How do you pronounce that? Answer “crawf-chick.”

    My name came from Germany. It is properly spelled with an Umlaut. Some son-of-a-bitch at Ellis Island took my Umlaut and gave me an e instead.

    I hear all sorts of people butcher my name stretching the vowels into a “yue” noise. Stop it, that’s not right, you are just going to hurt yourself.

    I had a friend whose last name was Welsh. Holy shit, there wasn’t a vowel in the first six letter of his last name. Our email usernames in college were the first six letters of your last name, then your first and middle initial. So John A Smith became

    I swear to god, his username looked like the worst Scrabble hand you can grab.

    Do you know how often I see Leftists talk about the micro-aggression of mispronouncing names then turn to someone of German, Russian, Czech, Polish, or Greek Heritage?

    Never. Why? Because when you butcher a non-English origin European name, you are doing it to a white person and they don’t give a fuck about that.

    This is just another excuse for Lefty racism.

    1. My surname is the result of Yiddish-speaking Jews taking a Croatian placename as a familial name and then making it fit into the Polish language… and then immigrating into Canada in the 1930s and having a Francophone immigration official try to render it in English.

      No one pronounces it right. I’m not even sure I do.

  3. My first name (and the “I” in “Ish”) is “Ian.” The name is Scottish Gaelic in origin and has been amongst the top twenty most popular names for newborn babies in the United Kingdom (not just Scotland) for nearly a century… and I cannot go a week without it being misspelt, mispronounced, or commented on as being unusual.

    I doubt the author of this screed would accept the idea that Americans (of all ethnicities) mispronouncing my Very Very English name is proof of a racist conspiracy of insensitivity against White People. Bamn, underlying premise has just been falsified… But, of course, SJWs don’t operate according to Earth logic.

  4. Oh, another fun thing, I work in security administration for a Very Big Multinational Company. One of our systems that I have to use multiple times daily requires us to verify our identity by as multipart verification process… Question #3 is to type in the first four letters of our first name.

    There are only THREE in Ian.

      1. Especially since tech support for it is handled in Germany or India. I’m no expert, but it seems like most people in those countries have seventeen syllables in their given names.

        There is a workaround in the system, but we have to change our passwords every 28 days. Which means my access gets set back to default and I cannot re-register through the default end user interface because I-A-N results in a “Does Not Compute” loop.

        We thought about changing my name in the system to something like “Iann” buuuut of course we can’t do that because other systems tied into this one use my government issued ID for verification.

  5. My last name is a fairly common anglo-saxon name that is not particularly difficult to pronounce and does’t use non-standard spelling. It does however, end in “s” i.e. plural. Not only do many people pronounce my name using the singular version, many of my school records are for the guy with the same first name, and the singular last name.

    1. I’m of Welsh descent so my family name was in the “can I please buy a vowel” category. Grandpa put in a lot of them for business purposes (nominally easier for people to read). Result: thorough confusion of everybody. Including someone who thought it was three first names mashed together. (charming actually, when pronounced with a southern accent. But I don’t look like a Louise…)

      Grade school was fun with Polish nuns stalling out after the first half syllable.

      This is why I also answer to “Hey you.”

  6. It would be fun to see these self-righteous clowns try to avoid getting in trouble when confronted with, say, San (“Bushman”) names. You know, the ones that use various punctuation marks as letters.
    Or even simple names like my first name — which I don’t use because too many others in my family have it too. It looks innocuous: “Gerard” but the proper (Dutch) pronunciation will throw non-natives for a loop. (It’s like the “ch” in the Scottish word “loch”.)
    J, that Welsh name probably did have vowels — but to non-Welsh speakers it comes as a surprise that “w” is a vowel. 🙂

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